Imitation Is Far More Than the Sincerest of Flattery: The Mimetic Power of Spirit Possession in Rajasthan, India

Excerpt From Essay

"On May 11 and 13, 1998, India tested a series of nuclear devices in the desert state of Rajasthan. On May 28, Pakistan completed similar trials. During these tests I was researching spirit possession in Rajasthan in the town of Udaipur just to the east and south of the blasts. The trials, though not of direct concern to my research, were hard to ignore. Everyone was eager to discuss them with me as an American and thus a representative of the nuclear power. Virtually all Rajasthanis with whom I spoke saw these tests as dangerous and wrong. They feared the tests might lead to nuclear war with Pakistan and perhaps to the destruction of the world. Although the tests were unanimously condemned, they were, just as univocally, deemed necessary. India, I was told, was surrounded by nuclear and soon-to-be nuclear states who longed for her land and resources— not only Pakistan, but China and Russia as well. Threatened with invasion, she needed to imitate the technologies and weapons of her enemies—especially the dangerous ones—if she were to survive."

"Imitation Is Far More Than the Sincerest of Flattery: The Mimetic Power of Spirit Possession in Rajasthan, India," Jeffrey Snodgrass (32).

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